I was raised in an era where you spoke when spoken to, you sat quietly and didn’t interupt, you were not encouraged to take art as a career because this did not pay the bills; however, you did climb trees, stood too close to bonfires and swam out of your depth without a rubber ring! I once won a prize at primary school for exemplary conduct and carried home a huge shield with my name on it, my memories are of my mother downplaying the award, there was no congratulations or hugs, there was embarrassment and a fear in her that I may ‘get big headed’ in my achievement (she thought she was doing her best for me). I survived the physical – but my decisions and relationships are affected in my adult life even if I recognise this or not.
As I have grown older and especially through the lockdowns of covid, I have become reclusive and more content to cocoon myself in my studio or office. This protection and anxiety also permeates into social media; as I tentatively press ‘post’ . My 40 minute commute to my office job to ‘pay the bills’ sees me catastrophise whilst eating my morning toast half an hour before I hit the road.
My artistic growth, in a professional sense has been directly impacted by my discomfort around sharing my work and self, both physically and on social media. In these days of online marketing, and as a practicing artist, I cannot afford the luxury to play second fiddle to my fears. And so, I have started to take risks; focusing on the fact that posts are ephemeral, taking myself less seriously, looking at the worst-case scenario (which for the most part is so not worth considering), and focusing on the fact that I may be encouraging someone else to share their work to the world.
I once sold an artwork via TradeMe (a New Zealand marketplace site) but uploaded the wrong photo and received an abusive email for my mistake, which of course sent me retreating back into a safer, no-risk state of selling…nothing. More recently I entered a competition in an attempt at combat this fear of rejection – and to my surprise I won, and I posted my win even though it felt awkward and yes ‘big headed’. To deny the win would also be to deny the appreciation and experience of those who chose my design – there is always another viewpoint.
Anyway, I hope in some way this post has been useful. I still push myself to live my life outside my comfort zone – sometimes I win, sometimes not – and that’s okay.